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Wind turbines could conflict with endangered bats

And with congress pushing for states to develop alternative energy like solar, nuclear and wind, agencies and local government are working to enact wind ordinances to control development as well as the ecological impact on birds--and bats. From Fayetteville's KUAF, Jaqueline Froelich has the story.

According to Wind Energy Resource Atlas, Western Arkansas has viable wind energy resources, as does the Ozark Highlands, although marginal.

And with congress pushing for states to develop alternative energy like solar, nuclear and wind, agencies and local government are working to enact wind ordinances to control development as well as the ecological impact on birds--and bats. From Fayetteville's KUAF, Jaqueline Froelich has the story.

A decade ago who would have thought that the Washington County Planning Board would have a wind subcommittee.

The wind group is meeting this evening in the Washington County Courthouse to discuss ways to control commercial, private and personal wind towers.

They've been at it for over a year, ever since they gave Chicago- based wind energy firm, Invenergy, got permission to set up two 200 feet tall meteorological towers near Winslow.
Chairman, Bob Daughtery says there are no ordinances regulating personal-use wind turbines.

In the meantime members are combing through packets of wind farm ordinances from other states, talking with wind company consultants, and as well as... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

According to Wind Energy Resource Atlas, Western Arkansas has viable wind energy resources, as does the Ozark Highlands, although marginal.

And with congress pushing for states to develop alternative energy like solar, nuclear and wind, agencies and local government are working to enact wind ordinances to control development as well as the ecological impact on birds--and bats. From Fayetteville's KUAF, Jaqueline Froelich has the story.

A decade ago who would have thought that the Washington County Planning Board would have a wind subcommittee.

The wind group is meeting this evening in the Washington County Courthouse to discuss ways to control commercial, private and personal wind towers.

They've been at it for over a year, ever since they gave Chicago- based wind energy firm, Invenergy, got permission to set up two 200 feet tall meteorological towers near Winslow.
Chairman, Bob Daughtery says there are no ordinances regulating personal-use wind turbines.

In the meantime members are combing through packets of wind farm ordinances from other states, talking with wind company consultants, and as well as ecologists--concerned about endangered bat populations in NW AR.

Violators of the Endangered Species Act are subject to fines of up to $100,000 and one year imprisonment.

David Kampwerth is a karst biologist for the Arkansas Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There's lots of Karst on the Ozark Highlands--a deep underground rock layer filled with sinkholes, tunnels and caves--thousands of them, prime bat habitat.

Kampworth says endangered species in the Ozarks, including the Grey Bat, the Indiana Bat and Ozark Big-eared Bat- which may be one of the rarest bats in the U.S. It used to range over the Ozarks, but now there are less than 1800 individuals.

And if one come close to a windmill, like this 200 foot turbine recorded in Abiline Texas?

Kampworth says it's not totally understood, but it seems the bats succumb to barotraumas in the buffeting air, which injure internal organs and cause the animals to fall to the ground.

Wildlife biologists are extremely worried about bats anyway, even common ones, because a killer fungus, known as White Nose Syndrome, has killed over a million of them. First discovered in New York in 2006, the disease is spreading and has been most recently documented in Tennessee, Missouri and now Oklahoma.

So federal wildlife agencies are coming up with management plan for wind and bats.

"What the Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with AGFC and other state agencies, is doing is coming up with recommendations to determine the sensitivity of a particular area to bat species." So anywhere a road, transmission line, or turbine is sited, officials want groundwater and caves noted.

And if significant numbers of bats are found here, wildlife agents may rule against windmills.

In West Virginia for example, the wind firm Invenergy reportedly was allowed to construct 40 wind turbines but can only operate them in winter, when bats are hibernating.

Architect Jim Gallagher is a member of the Washington County Planning board and winds subcommittee. He says ultimately, officials may regulate number of towers, size of blades, and the height of towers. Course there are big wind generation facilities we see coming up around country.

Of course Northwest Arkansas doesn't have the winds of say the Tall Grass Prairie in Kansas, or hills surrounding Bakersfield CA. But Gallagher expects, with wind power technological advances, more turbines will turn up. And once constructed, wind farms could sell their energy via the Southern Power Pool to companies like SWECPO. But that's a ways off too.

Up in Benton County, a few test towers are checking air speeds there, as part of a potential 100 wind turbine development along Oklahoma/Arkansas border. And along with wildlife protection, the county Quorum Court is looking at regulations to control turbine shadows, noise and to protect historic sites.


Source: http://www.publicbroadcasti...

JUL 14 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27244-wind-turbines-could-conflict-with-endangered-bats
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